A mindful start to 2017

15844873_1579199142096827_3426425377741358251_oMany of us associate the start of a new year with wiping the slate clean and making a few choice changes to our lifestyles. It’s all too easy, however, for our good intentions to fall by the wayside after just a few weeks or even days.

Below are just a few suggestions for how to incorporate a little more mindfulness into your lifestyle. The more mindful we are, the more happiness and peace of mind we invite into our lives. Who wouldn’t want that…?

Some of these suggestions are very simple and require nothing more than a conscious decision to make the effort. Others may challenge your current mindset! Pick just ONE thing and see if you can gradually make it a habit. If you forget about it for a few days/weeks/months, not to worry, give yourself a gentle reminder and simply pick up where you left off.

#1: Shift your focus

Take a moment to recognize what truly brings joy into your life: Those moments during the day that light you up, put a smile on your face and make your heart swell. Pause and savour those moments – big or small. If you find yourself lying in bed at night dwelling on something negative, call into mind one or two of the positives from that day. Shift your focus to the moments that you are truly grateful for and fall asleep in a more positive frame of mind.

#2: Pay it forward

Model the behaviour that you would love to see in others. Whether at home, in the supermarket, driving in your car or waiting in a queue. Notice when you think things like “I wish she would be more polite”, “I wish you’d stop nagging me” or “I wish he would pay more attention”. Often the things we criticize in others are our own worst faults. Change your own behaviour first and eventually you will notice changes around you.

#3: Give yourself some breathing space

Notice when you are in a situation that makes you feel stressed – a moment of confrontation, a difficult conversation, a feeling of losing control… Sometimes all it takes is a brief pause to prevent yourself from saying or doing something you might later regret. If you’re in a situation that you can walk away from, go somewhere quiet and allow yourself some space and time to yourself. If there’s no escape, pause before reacting and take a few deep breaths to get centered. If you write an angry email, leave it in your drafts folder for a few hours then look at it again when you’re feeling calmer. You might decide to tone it down before sending!

#4: Engage in some monotasking

Forget everything you’ve heard about doing more than one thing at once. Multitasking is overrated! Rather than juggle several tasks and do them half-heartedly, do just one thing and do it whole-heartedly. This can be anything from brushing your teeth or talking to your partner to drinking a cup of tea or listening to your child. The point is to focus on doing just that ONE thing and resist the temptation to do other things at the same time (such as checking Facebook, looking at your phone, tidying up, watching TV…).

#5: Banish digital devices from your bedroom

This is a big one so I’ve saved it till last! It is scientifically proven that using devices such as mobile phones and tablets before bedtime will disturb your sleep. Get yourself a conventional alarm clock and leave your mobile devices in a different part of the house to promote a healthier, more peaceful and more mindful nighttime routine.

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